Home Historical art How mapping helped the Grand Canyon become awe-inspiring

How mapping helped the Grand Canyon become awe-inspiring


September 28, 2021

An ASU team to share a historical and interdisciplinary atlas with the public

Published in 1882, “Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas” is the first monograph produced by the United States Geological Survey.

Written by “Grand Canyon Poet” Clarence Dutton, the book intersects with literature, art and cartography. It changed the way the Grand Canyon was viewed and respected, as an iconic geological masterpiece.

“For more than three centuries before the publication of Dutton’s geological analysis of the Grand Canyon, Europeans had visited the area on several occasions. They dismissed it as worthless every time, ”said Matthew Toro, director of maps, imagery and geospatial services at the ASU library.

“As late as 1861, an observer infamously wrote that the Grand Canyon was a ‘no-profit place’. Dutton and his associates, on the other hand, seamlessly combined geological science, literary prose on landscape aesthetics, a collection of topographic and geological maps, and some of the most iconic illustrations and panoramic views of the Grand Canyon never created, ”Toro said. .

“Dutton’s works offered a new way of seeing and interpreting the canyon. They helped transform our awareness of the Grand Canyon region into the iconic landscape we know today. “